MARUAH’s statement in response to the rioting at Little India on 8 Dec 2013.
It is sad and tragic that there was a riot in Little India last night where people were hurt and property destroyed. We offer our deepest condolences to the family of the worker who died and we hope that justice will be done for him. We are confident that the Coroner’s inquiry will be open and fair and will help bring some relief to his family.
What happened is wrong and attacking civil defence and police officers who are doing their jobs is unacceptable by international human rights norms.
While we arrest and investigate the culprits we also ask that we stop the scapegoating of foreign migrant workers. The workers have been serving us for almost four decades and even as their numbers increased we have never had such a mishap. In fact many have died whilst serving us. In addition foreign workers also have very little recreational space despite their numbers. We ask all of us in Singapore to be compassionate, be gracious and search deep to know that we too could be angry with many policies and not at these workers who earn little and are not even provided with the basics such as pay slips, put up with much stigmatisation and who as human beings, have a limit to the amount of humiliation that they will tolerate.
Let us treat this matter with the maturity that it deserves and examine many things that were festering below the surface. And the match set the whole keg on fire. It is wrong. And those guilty will be punished. But we need to avoid leaping to conclusions and blaming any party – the government, the workers or anyone. We need a well reasoned, open, discussion about these issues. A commission of inquiry into the causes and consequences of the riots is essential.